My only real problem with SO3's battle system, is how you could run around like the dickens (at least Fate, could, anyway), but when you finally got down to swinging your sword, it was slow.
I'd swear that the animations of your attacks were done in slow motion.
For that matter, an enemy could step a millimeter away from you during your sword stroke, and it'd miss.
For that matter, quick/weak attacks were pointless when enemies always used guard/barrier; you'd need a slow/strong attack to hit them without getting paralyzed all the time.
What I hope they improve in the sequel, is to make the battle system more reminiscent of that of a hack n' slash game.
I'd still like enemy encounters, and encounter them in real-time like you did in SO3, but once you're in battle, I want to be able to jump and execute combos, and all sorts of shit like that, like you do in games like Devil May Cry or Chaos Legion. They only variation they ought to do is to make combat faster than it is in DMC/CL, or hack n' slash games in general.
I never got any of those combo special attacks that they showed in the SO3 gameplay demo footage; my guess is that they weren't even included in the final game.
To be honest with you, I'm not so fond of traditional RPGs as I am of hack n' slash games; I'm really losing interest in menu-based fare.
your entire post shows me that you had little understanding of the SO3 battle system. hard attacks are meant to lower an enemies guard so that you can set up link attacks with the soft attack. link attacks are important because the damage gets progressively higher during links capping out at 300% damage. and again the AI in SO3 was only stupid if you didnt raise attack or defense. i expect in star ocean 4 your allies will ask to use healing items like they do in rouge galaxy and tales of the abyss. since in SO3 if a character got low on hp they wouldnt attack and would avoid enemies and if they had a healing spell they would use it on anyone who is low. much like VP the SO3 battle system was very methodical.